Dutch Dairy Farming roots… and Farmstr

0314farmstrseattleite Dutch Dairy Farming roots... and Farmstr

You may not know that I came from Dutch dairy farming roots – or that I grew up in an agricultural community. I bottle-fed baby calves and cleaned out their pens – I spent my fair share of time in barn boots and learned to drive on a tiny tractor. While today I live in Seattle proper, my roots run deep and my affection for dairy farmers will never fade.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Art of Milk in Duvall, WA. When I stepped out of my car, I had to choke back a sudden wave of emotion – the smell of a dairy farm was an unexpected throw-back to my childhood memories of grandpa’s farm.

I recently spoke to a room full of 800+ at Women 2.0 in San Francisco about Farmstr. I started the whole talk by telling them I had nostalgia for cow manure. I then told them that Farmstr.com launched, is growing, has over 70 farmers posting offers online and is making a difference in Western Washington – and that we have plans to expand to other cities and across the country. All thanks to a team that knows this food and tech domain ‘down to the cow pie.’

artofmilk Dutch Dairy Farming roots... and Farmstr

I just resisted posting photos of cow pies. And fortunately for you, computers have not yet solved for scratch and sniff.

Here is what I want you to know: I have written [this blog] Talk of Tomatoes for 8+ years. I am a blogger, urban farmer, trained chef and businesswoman. I have a lot of really cool foodie friends and talented business partners. I know a lot of farmers. And I now run Farmstr.com, an online marketplace where small, organic-quality farmers, fishers and ranchers can sell direct to consumers like you and I. We launched September 2013 in the Pacific Northwest.

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Why? I was concerned about food safety, quality, Big Ag, GMO’s, hormones, feed lots – you get the idea. So I angled to source clean food from local farmers through bulk buy groups – and found them to just scratch the surface of a much larger problem. These groups were managed by volunteers, payments were scattered, and ultimately we were buying from too few farmers. There are nearly 40,000 small farmers in Washington state alone – many small, passionate, sustainable farmers with extra food and too few customers. I wanted to help more farmers – and friends wanted to find them. Farmstr helps consumers find and buy direct from countless local farmers, and helps organic-quality farmers sell their food and grow their local customer base.

Farmstr’s platform is a direct sales marketplace where you can access and get to know local, sustainable farmers, fishers, ranchers (including urban farmers). When you buy direct instead of through markets or stores, you tend to pay less as there are fewer costs (think inventory, warehouse, labor, re-packaging, sorting, hard assets). Farmers prefer to sell direct for a number of reasons: it takes the least amount of time so they can focus on farming, they keep higher margins than when they sell through indirect channels, and they get to meet their customers – you! – and develop relationships.

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As much as you and I want to know our food and know our farmer, those local producers also want to know you. They want to meet the folks who appreciate their food – food that is an outpouring of their passion for clean, non-GMO, non chemical-laden food. One of our farmers literally sources local clean grains and hand-mixes feed daily for his pigs. And Art who I met – whose dairy farm I visited and whose raw cow milk I buy – is passionate about his farm, his practices and his product. These are my farmers… and I was able to access them and buy direct (and directly support them) thanks to Farmstr.com.

janelleOR Dutch Dairy Farming roots... and Farmstr

So now you know. If you live in the PNW you can hop onto Farmstr and find your local farmers, fishers, ranchers. If you don’t live here – don’t worry – we are coming your way. If you do have pals in the PNW, do our local farmers here a favor – and the chance to thrive – by emailing your friends and encouraging them to buy locally farmed food through Farmstr. Whether you are near or far – please join our ‘rodeo’ and sign up for the Farmstr Newsletter, and track our whereabouts on your favorite social channels. Farmstr.com is on Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, Facebook (check out Art’s farm!) and Instagram.

Coming soon: our ‘Farmstr Fodder‘ blog, full of recipes and farmer profiles, video clips, food bloggers, news and agriculture.

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Want to learn more (job/intern, media, partner opportunities, website query)? Feel free to email us. And check out our recent article in the March edition of Seattle Magazine (And yes – that is a real llama – and yes, it drooled on me!) and interview on Northwest Cable News Tech Talk and King 5 News. Plus, soak up recent ‘Farmstr’ posts and farm-food inspired recipes from local PNW farm-loving bloggers:

  • Sonnet from In Sonnet’s Kitchen teaches how to ‘spatchcock’ a chicken, discusses the difference between factory chickens &  pastured chickens, and has a commercial-worthy picture of Farmer Bradley from Windy N Ranch (whose pastured chickens just earned the photo shoot of their lives).
  • Maria food and pastry blogger of Pink Patisserie, lives in Issaquah, WA, near our newest and latest partner drop-site, The Issaquah Grange. Watch for her column in the Issaquah Press and check out her farm-salad with greens sold by Indianola Organics: Spring Greens, Farro, Beet & Citrus Salad.
  • Megan from Wanna Be a Country Cleaver took Loki’s sustainable salmon and created a taste of Spring: Salmon w/couscous and asparagus – the pictures speak volumes.
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Grandma’s Special Salmon Sauce

Grandma's Special Salmon Sauce

[more]

I would get up at 6am with my dad, pull on my boots and add one jacket on top of another. At only 8 years old, I’d fill that dented and well-loved Stanley thermos with hot chocolate – dad had his thermos of coffee – and traipse with him to the boat. I can still see the boat bobbing by the dock and smell the salty ocean water. A few seagulls say hello, but all else is quiet, serene – we witness the crack of dawn.

He loved to fish, and I loved being part of dad’s crew. I’d curl

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oxtail recipes – and how one long tail made it through 4 meals.

oxtail recipes - and how one long tail made it through 4 meals.


We all have sides to ourselves that need to be fed.
We have nuances that keep us sane. Habits of comfort, people we call, ways we organize. New year beginnings are a time to revisit our priorities, rearrange as necessary and re-up our commit to good health, happiness and worthy goals. As I hit mid-life and have years of parenting, jobs, relationships gone good and bad – I am gaining a handle on what keeps me grounded – and have found that sometimes even the smallest things matter.
[more]
I have long been a believer that taking care of oneself benefits

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Christmas holiday 2013 (part 1): cabin in the woods in Yaak, Montana

Christmas holiday 2013 (part 1): cabin in the woods in Yaak, Montana

[more]
I ignore the dead fly floating in a sea of candle wax while it burns.
I wake up and have to pee, then close my eyes and will another to run to the nearby creek in below freezing temperatures for a bucket of water – a requisite to filling the back of the toilet for each ‘flush.’
I curse my packing skills, having left behind deodorant and now counting 4 days sans shower. Add in 3 teen boys and sweaty games of hockey and you can imagine…
On day 2 of 6 we are without water, no electricity and together

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California Ripe Olives Tour

California Ripe Olives Tour


On a recent California Ripe Olive Tour, I enjoyed a whirlwind 2 days of meeting farmers and visiting olive orchards, snapping pics at [olive] plants and eating chef-inspired, olive-themed meals. We not only took in sites and bites, we filled our brain to the brim with olive facts and figures, took note of olive pairings and stood in line for blue-cheese stuffed black olive martinis.
On any farm tour or food press trip, there are key points and highlights (check out ALL the photos).
[more]
A group of media writers, bloggers, and nutritionists landed on a Wed afternoon, where we

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12 brussels sprout recipes + how to store brussels sprouts

12 brussels sprout recipes + how to store brussels sprouts

Is it really all about the bacon? I asked a pile of blogging friends for their best brussel sprouts recipes and I confess: you’d think it was a case for “everything it better with bacon.” Brussels & Bacon are quickly becoming akin to peanut butter and jelly, olive oil and balsamic, truffle and popcorn… [more] (couldn’t resist that last one).
Bacon love aside – I do want to make a case for bacon free brussel sprouts.
I keep thinking brussel gratin would be divine – I need to climb on that pony. Maybe a new twist for Thanksgiving?
I am about

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pumpkin recipes and pumpkin puree recipes

pumpkin recipes and pumpkin puree recipes

Tis the season. Yes – I just said that. Folks might think that phrase is locked up for Christmas but in my little humble kitchen ’tis the season’ is a year round affair. One ‘season’ of food after another parades itself through my kitchen from January through December. There was a time when I thought apples, herbs and tomatoes were year round… but then I started to pay attention to ‘seasonal produce’ and realized most food isn’t grown locally, seasonally. I won’t hop on a soapbox – entertaining though it would be – instead lets focus on today. NOW. October!… [more]

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Green Tomato Recipes

green tomatoes


We are gamblers. Risk-takers. We balance shoulder shrugs against sleepless nights. And year after year we ask ourselves: will they turn red? Anyone who plants tomatoes in the Pacific Northwest is rolling the dice. We hold our breath until the last late frost is gone – June if we are lucky – it was July just two years past. May planted tomatoes will never see their day.
[more]
If we remember ‘garden’ sometime in March or April – we will remember to get our tomato seeds into little cups of dirt in the best lit, warmest place in our homes. We

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apple cider vinegar recipe (and apple drinking vinegar recipe)

apple cider vinegar recipe (and apple drinking vinegar recipe)

All I know is the corner of my dining room is spewing odor as if it has a place in the conversation. How can one do homework with sour fermenting apples penetrating your nostrils? My poor sons put up with noisy dehydrators, simmering vinegar, a fridge full of hard-boiled eggs and now this: a corner full of ferment. So it goes in a home of an urban farmer, a soul ever curious about seasonal food and preservation and ever reaching down the abyss of DIY sustainable living.
Last summer I scored apples from my father’s tree, plus sourced some ‘seconds’… [more]

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Local Blueberries

Local Blueberries


Where I live in the Pacific Northwest, blueberries… [more] are still draped across bushes, and big flats of blues adorn countless kitchen counters (in season through middle/end of September). In fact, I pinged a pile of food-blogging friends for blueberry recipes to keep the inspiration strong through the tail end of blueberry season (recipes follow).
Today at an unnamed grocery store I saw organic, local blueberries for $7 a pound. I confess: I cringed a bit, knowing these super-food, uber-healthy, applause-worthy berries were so costly to consumers. I cringed a tad more knowing that the blueberry farmer was lucky if s/he

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